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In 2016, we worked with VA Senator William Stanley to introduce legislation to create a STEM Competition Team Grant Program. That legislation passed and a pilot program was created. Twenty schools benefited from that program including two FRC teams. Unfortunately, that program is expiring in July. This session, there is a bill introduced by Delegate Kathy Tran to create a STEAM Education Fund. It is broader, lowering the free/reduced lunch threshold to 25% and also including elementary schools in the eligibility requirements. This bill passed committee unanimously Monday January 29th, after the committee heard statements from students from Blue Cheese and FRC1418 Vae Victus. We need your help to “Make it Loud” and get this bill to the next step.
Virginia HB 1111 STEAM programs; establishes STEAM Education Fund
This bill, introduced by Delegate Kathy Tran, establishes the STEAM Education Fund for the purpose of awarding grants in amounts not to exceed $50,000 annually to any public elementary or secondary school in the Commonwealth at which at least 25% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch that provides an academic class, curriculum, or activity focused on a science, technology, engineering, arts, or mathematics (STEAM) discipline.
Full Bill Details
The bill was "tabled" by the House Appropriations Subcommittee: Elementary & Secondary Education, Feb. 7. The following delegates voted against tabling (which would have been progress for the bill): McQuinn; Aird; and Bell, John J. Delegates Peace, Landes, Knight, Rush, and Pillion voted to table it. This is likely the end of the bill for 2018, unless something dramatic occurs.
How can I support this bill?
This bill is unlikely to pass this session, however, you can still voice your support for this and similar legislation to your representatives. Use Who is my legislator? to find out who your Delegates are. Sample text is provided below for you to start with to compose an email. Personalize the email with your story so they understand the impact FIRST Robotics and STEM programs have made in your life. You can also call your Delegate's office and spend a few minutes expressing your support of the bill or similar initiatives in the future.
Sample Email Text:
Dear Delegate (insert your Delegate's name),
I am writing to express my disappointment that "HB 1111 STEAM programs; establishes STEAM Education Fund” was tabled by the House Appropriations Subcommittee: Elementary & Secondary Education after it passed the House Committee on Science and Technology unanimously. Given the importance of STEAM education programs and the projected deficit of STEM workers in the immediate future, this is unfortunate.
If enacted, bill would have greatly helped further access to STEAM programs and the development of much needed STEAM skills for students in schools at which at least 25% of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch. We need to do more to support STEAM programs and initiatives, as our state currently has a shortage of critically needed STEM workers, a problem that is only expected to grow in significance. Within the current workforce there is also a lack of diversity. These programs have the potential to make a difference in the lives of many students. I hope that you will support similar programs in the future.
(Insert personal story here, the impact FIRST or other STEM/STEAM programs have had on your life)
Thank you for supporting students and future STEAM workers!
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